Highlighting the need for alternative spaces, the Mumbai -based gallery brings down a new exhibit
for many, art isn’t for the everyday. Ensconced in galleries, it is elitist and quite often daunting. The last few years, however, have seen several attempts to bridge the gap—from artists setting up installations at malls to hotels opening their foyers to showcase paintings. Mumbai’s Sakshi Gallery, which is bringing down a curated collection of modern and contemporary art to the city early next month, is adding to this shift by tying up with Park Hyatt to house its masterpieces. Pointing to her city’s experiments with exhibiting art at railway stations and at traffic signals, Geetha Mehra, the gallery’s director (who incidentally started out in Chennai in the ’80s before shifting base), says, “When people see art in a different space, it ceases to be exclusive. It’s the best way to attract a new audience.”
Stating that there is an active audience here (one of the reasons why she likes to revisit Chennai every two to three years) Mehra is bringing down several artists who have never been showcased in the city. “It’s an eclectic mix of some of the best works from across the country—from masters like the D’Souzas, Razas and Husains to contemporaries who have been doing the biennale circuits,” she says. Though unwilling to pick out any one as the highlight, she says she is excited to be showcasing artists like Samanta Batra, Seher Shah and Anoli Perera. “Anoli’s Silent Sitters is a (thought-provoking) armchair with artwork on it. In Samanta’s installation, she has used chapatti tavas—working on the black surface with white—to infuse it with a different meaning,” she explains.
Meanwhile, Mehra believes we can do a lot to popularise art in the city. Lauding DakshinaChitra for its work in sensitising children to arts in general, she says the city needs more such initiatives—maybe starting with something as simple as a guided tour to the neighbourhood temple, to “study it as a monument”. Or we could take a leaf from St+ART Mumbai, an annual street art festival that will see murals, installations and more on the streets of Bandra. “Though it calls for a lot of work (permissions from the municipality, for a start), it’d be a great experiment, and Chennai has so many spaces for it, like Adyar,” she signs off.
At Park Hyatt, from September 10-13. Details: 71771234
Surya Praphulla Kumar